A stroke of genius in five letters
On 2 July 1908, Hans Wilsdorf officially filed and registered Rolex as a brand name in Switzerland – a master stroke that would shape the company’s future.
The Muse of Inspiration
Hans Wilsdorf considered several options before arriving at his decision one day. In a lecture delivered on 2 July 1958, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the brand, he stated, “I tried combining the letters of the alphabet in every possible way. This gave me some hundred names, but none of them felt quite right. One morning, while riding on the upper deck of a horse-drawn omnibus along Cheapside in the City of London, a genie whispered ‘Rolex’ in my ear.”
A few days later the “Rolex” trademark was filed and officially registered in Switzerland. In 1913, the Rolex brand was registered internationally. Today it is registered worldwide.
After having protected the name, Hans Wilsdorf had another challenge before him: to convince the retailers to include Rolex rather than their own name on the watch. At the time, each jeweller or watchmaker wanted to place his own name on the dial and not reveal the name of the supplier or manufacturer.
To this end, Hans Wilsdorf proceeded a step at a time, as related in his memoirs. “At first I ventured to inscribe ‘Rolex’ on one watch in every six, hoping that this watch would get through and be sold. Gradually, I dared to put it on two out of six, and later it appeared on three.”
In 1926, the year of the launch of the Rolex Oyster waterproof wristwatch, Hans Wilsdorf vowed that, from that date forth, no single watch would be delivered without the Rolex brand name figuring on its dial, case and movement. There was no turning back.
Protecting the Brand
Very early on, Hans Wilsdorf understood the need to create and to protect his own trademarks. Over the course of 50 years, he registered dozens of brand names.
Since his death in 1960, Rolex has continued to register and protect many more trademarks. Today, an entire department at Rolex, composed of brand specialists and domain name experts, guarantees the defence of this precious and prolific legacy. The Rolex Group holds over 5,000 registered trademarks worldwide and a comparable number of domain names, such as rolex.com.